Creating Accessible Documents

Deciding on Document Type

When planning for your website content, think about the purpose of the information so you can decide what type of the document is the most appropriate. Consult the following compilation of reasons to help you in your choice. Please remember, all published documents must be accessible, or be accompanied by comparable accessible documents, otherwise the overall web accessibility and its compliance of your site will be compromised.

PurposePDFHTMLWord .doc
Downloadable  Preferred
Web Preferred 
Forms Preferred 
Mobile friendly Preferred 
Loading speed Preferred 
Interactive Preferred 


Making PDF documents accessible is very difficult. Please consider publishing content online in HTML (as a webpage) in favour of converting them to PDF. If you must include a PDF, make sure to include a comparable experience, such as an accessible Word document saved in its native form (.docx).

Several resources are available to help you make PDF documents more accessible. You may need to look into several of the following.

  1. Take a course on making PDFs accessible: U of T’s AODA office offers a weekly PDF Accessibility Clinic, on Teams, every Thursday from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  2. Procure Adobe Acrobat Pro (not Acrobat Reader) and follow the Adobe guide to verify accessibility.
  3. Run Acrobat Pro’s accessibility check, and use its tools to correct any accessibility problems.

Word Documents

Use the following guidelines and principles to ensure your Word documents are accessible.

  • Use true headings, not just bold styling applied to body text
  • Use lists to organize content
  • Add alternate text for images
  • Evaluate the use of tables; prefer the use of lists where possible
    • If using tables, specify column and row headers where applicable
    • Use simple table structures (avoid split cells, merged cells, or nesting)
  • Use meaningful link text, i.e., words that name or describe the link’s destination. Avoid things like click here (why?) or read more (of what?)

PowerPoint Presentations

Check out our Guide to Making PowerPoint Accessible (a PowerPoint Presentation you can use as a template for your own slideshows. 
PowerPoint presentations are not designed to be used as web content. If you would like to share the content of your presentation online, please include the information as text either on the page in HTML, or with an accompanying Word document, to ensure accessibility.